As students entering ASE programs arrive with many differences in the type and amount of work experience and career planning they have participated in, they are at varying stages in their own career development. While the majority of students entering BC’s ASE ER programs are in the 18-24 age range (according to recent LMAPD surveys), students also arrive at later stages in their lives. These mature students also arrive with varying degrees of exposure to work, from none to extensive. This presents a challenge for PS educators who need to make individualized education plans, often within a cohort setting, for each student based on their specific goals and needs. Instructors also need to individually assess where each student is in their career progression; some are at the awareness or exploration stage while others have identified clear and focused interests. There is a comprehensive career education strand in “BC’s New Curriculum”, which includes a framework with career education material throughout the K-12 experience. The new BC curriculum identifies three major elements of career education taking place over five stages. The three elements are, awareness, exploration and experience and students should “transition through each one in their own community and context.”  A link to the “Career Education Core Competencies” outline is included in the appendix. As previously stated, however, there are differences in the level of participation for students with IEP’s, who are not on track to graduate with a “Dogwood” diploma.
In order to plan meaningful work experiences, sufficient time must be spent to establish an individualized profile and personal goals. Until this information is established, it is not possible to make decisions about placement type, focus, duration, etc. For example, a student with no previous work experience lacks the knowledge and information required to make informed choices about work placements. With little or no actual experience in real (paid or unpaid) work settings, a student’s concept of what a particular job entails is not likely to be accurate. They may state they have a preference for a particular type of work, based on limited knowledge of what they think the job involves. One common example of this, is childcare. A student may have done some babysitting, or had experience interacting with children and enjoyed it. However, working in childcare, where staff are required to spend extended periods of time with a number of children, dealing with behaviour challenges, parents, cleaning tasks, etc., is quite different. A structured work experience involves spending time in the environment, performing regular day-to day tasks and giving students an increased understanding of real job demands and working conditions (e.g., noise levels, smells, physical tasks, etc.) which can only be experienced on site. Conversely, a student may profess a dislike for a particular type of work without having had any experience at the job. Structured work experiences afford the opportunity for exploratory assessments and provide specific information and authentic involvement that can be used to help make career decisions and develop a personal profile. Assessment is an ongoing process developed over time and informed by the discoveries made through all types of work experience activities. Preliminary PSE ER undertakings are designed to inform and guide awareness, exploration, decision-making and work preparation activities.
While there are numerous models of career development. Richard Luedking includes one example of career development stages is included in his book, The Way to Work (2009, p.28).
- Career Awareness
- Career Exploration
- Career Decision Making
- Career Preparation
- Career Placement
The previous section included guidelines emphasizing the importance of specific personal outcomes for each work experience. The following table from the most recent ASE articulation document  outlines the general prescribed outcomes for ASE ER programs. According to the articulation guide, Level 2 ASE ER programs/courses should include a minimum of 70% of the outcomes in the following table (the link for this guide is included in the appendix).
- British Columbia, Ministry of Education. (2015, August). Update on career education K-12. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from British Columbia Ministry of Education: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/sites/curriculum.gov.bc.ca/files/pdf/career-education.pdf ↵
- Lowndes, D. (2018, May). Adult special education program specific transfer guide. Retrieved January 2018, 2017, from British Columbia Council on Admission and Transfer: http://www.bccat.ca/pubs/aseguide2018 ↵